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When we began planning a stop in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the places Jeff was really looking forward to was the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. He is really into military planes and ships, so this was the perfect place for him to explore. I love history, so I was all-in, too. And Kristin, well, she likes exploring just about anything.
Our Plan for Charleston
We’d already spent nearly two weeks away from home on this particular trip to Walt Disney World. On the way down, we spent some time in Memphis. After that, we had several days at Disney. Before we headed home, we spent a couple of nights in St. Augustine, Florida. For a final stop on the trip, we decided to spend a night in Charleston for the first time.
We left St. Augustine in good time, and we arrived in Charleston just in time for lunch at Swig and Swine, a BBQ place. After lunch, we drove over the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge to the Mount Pleasant area where Patriots Point is. We also had reservations at a Best Western there, so if downtown Charleston seems a little pricey, Mount Pleasant is a good alternative.
After we visited Patriot’s Point, we went back over to historic Charleston and the battery. That evening, we had dinner and walked the beach at Sullivan’s Island. If you are into Edgar Allan Poe, you must try Poe’s Tavern. It’s such a cool place! We took the first ferry over to Fort Sumter National Monument from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston in the morning. That afternoon, we visited Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. For our first taste of Charleston, we hit a lot of places. I’m ready to go back!
When you arrive at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, one of the first things you’ll notice is the aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. It’s pretty hard to miss. You’ll also get to see the destroyer, USS Laffey, and the submarine, USS Clamagore. The museum and exhibits are set up inside the aircraft carrier. Before you embark on the long path to the aircraft carrier, you can visit a gift shop. We saved it for last because it was raining off and on, and we happened to catch a moment of dryness.
It’s also interesting to note that ferries to Fort Sumter leave from Patriots Point, as well. These are not affiliated with the museum, but taking the ferry to Fort Sumter is an option from this side of the harbor.
Here’s a couple of other things about the museum–you can sleep on the aircraft carrier, and they also offer ghost tours (separate experiences). We love a good ghost tour, so when we make it back, we may have to give this a try.
The USS Yorktown
This aircraft carrier was commissioned to serve in World War II in the Pacific. Later, it was remodeled for use with jets and was later used in Vietnam and the recovery mission for the Apollo 8 astronauts.
When you first enter the aircraft carrier, you will find yourself inside a large area with some exhibits, including various planes. Jeff climbed inside one.
You can also access the Medal of Honor Museum from this general area.
After we explored this part, we headed outside to where the airplanes would take off.
It was a little damp during our visit.
I really enjoyed the rainy day views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from the USS Yorktown.
Here is one with the Fort Sumter ferry.
Here is where the ferry docks.
I like all of these boats.
Here is a view of the planes from land.
Winding In and Out Through the Passages of the USS Yorktown
Once we’d explored outside, we headed back in to see what life was like inside the aircraft carrier.
Kristin liked this part best because it feels like you’re part of the crew.
The galley area is fun.
The displays help you imagine what life was really like for the people stationed here.
When we explored the galley and the bunk areas, we were essentially alone. It felt a little eery to think no one else was around on this big ship.
Other people were exploring, but we didn’t see them much. The rain probably kept the crowds away. Still, it was nice to have a lot of the areas to ourselves.
The USS Laffey Destroyer
You also have the opportunity to see the destroyer, the USS Laffey. This ship aided during D-Day before being sent to the Pacific. There, the ship was the target of a kamikaze attack that the crew defended. Later, the ship was also used in the Cold War.
There are some interesting exhibits inside with holograms to give you a feel for what it was like during the Cold War and in the Pacific.
The USS Clamagore
At the time of our visit, the USS Clamagore, a submarine from the Cold War, was part of the museum’s fleet. Currently, plans are in place for the submarine to be submerged and made into an artificial reef. Until then, you can see the submarine. In the picture below, it’s in the background.
The museum also has a Vietnam area outside, but we didn’t explore that on this visit.
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum was a great experience for our visit to Charleston. If you have history buffs in your party, they will definitely find exhibits and artifacts to check out. And if your party has airplane and ship lovers among its members, they will love this. It’s a great place to learn and explore while you’re in Charleston.